“WHAT are you on? The ‘fuck Windows’ strategy?” Back in the late 1990s, when Bill Gates was still Microsoft’s boss, any employee who had the temerity to suggest something that could possibly weaken the firm’s flagship operating system was sure to earn his wrath. Even after Steve Ballmer took over from Mr Gates in 2000, that remained the incontestable law at the company’s headquarters in Redmond, in Washington state. Everything Microsoft did had to strengthen Windows, to make it ever more crushingly dominant. Many of the company’s best innovations were killed because of this “strategy tax”, as it was known internally.
Today the rules are different in Redmond. The new boss who took over last year, Satya Nadella (pictured, centre, with Mr Gates to the left and Mr Ballmer on the right), recoils when he hears the term “strategy tax” and says he now tells his staff simply to “build stuff that people like”.
Microsoft seems to be making a lot of interesting moves lately that never would’ve happened under Gates/Balmer. Office on iOS/Android devices is great, and Windows 10 is shaping up to address everything that was wrong not just with Windows 8, but also with everything that came before. It’s clear Microsoft is finally embracing its new APIs and Metro environment properly, relegating the ‘classic’ Windows elements to the legacy bin.
The big question in that regard: Metro Explorer shell. It’s clear they’re working on it, but will it come in time for Windows 10, or will it be pushed to Windows 11?